Vinegar, and especially white vinegar, provides the answers to many cleaning problems. It also is the answer to many other cleaning challenges inside and outside your home.
By using vinegar, you satisfy the ideal of house cleaners throughout the centuries:
- You are using a product that is safe for all members of your family.
- You aren’t spending money on chemical products that can have unexpectedly harmful side effects or trigger nasty allergic reactions.
- You are saving money. Vinegar is remarkably inexpensive.
The following sections will give you a taste of just how versatile and effective vinegar can be. This is not an exhaustive list—vinegar has an almost endless number of applications. However, this list will get you started with some of the easiest and fastest ways to get the power of vinegar working for you.
House cleaning is one of the most common uses for vinegar. You can use it in every room of your house. From the basement to the attic, vinegar will help you keep the house clean, bright, and smelling fresh. (Please note the following abbreviations: c = cup, tsp = teaspoon, tbsp = tablespoon, qt = quart and gal = gallon.)
GENERAL APPLICATIONS When it comes to vinegar, you can choose from several different cleansers for various tasks. You can make them all in advance, keeping sufficient on hand for daily tasks. Below you will find several different types of cleansers relying on vinegar for their strength and ability to remove dirt and grime.
• For glass, stainless steel, plastic and laminate surfaces, mix 2 parts water and 1 part distilled white vinegar with a couple of drops of dish washing liquid.
• Place the ingredients into a spray bottle and use as needed.
• For walls and painted surfaces, combine ½ c. white vinegar, 1 c. of ammonia and ¼ c. baking soda in 1 gallon of water.
• Put into a spray bottle and use as needed.
• For scouring, combine ¼ c. baking soda with 1 tbsp of liquid dish washing detergent. Add sufficient white distilled vinegar to create a creamy but thick texture and scour away.
• For renewing sponges and rags, place them in a bowl with enough water to just cover them. Add ¼ c. distilled white vinegar. Leave them to soak overnight, then wash and use normally.
• For a quick tile cleaner, take a gallon of warm water and add ½ c. baking soda, 1 c. distilled white vinegar and 1 c. ammonia. Wait until it stops seething before applying to the tiles.
• For an all-round germ killer, pour straight white vinegar into a spray bottle and spray it around doorknobs and other often touched places before wiping them dry.
• For mold and mildew, just wipe down the affected areas using full-strength white vinegar.
These are general cleansers you can prepare in advance of the work or make on-the spot. Vinegar is a safe, cleaning solution that can work in every room of your home, including the bathroom.
It is simple to use vinegar to keep your bathroom clean and all the chrome shiny. It may require a little more elbow grease and time, but all the work definitely pays off in financial savings and naturally clean bathroom.
• Bath Tub Grime: Wipe your tub down first with full strength white vinegar. Scrub it next with baking soda. Rinse later.
• Colored Porcelain: Give that colored porcelain a shine. Wash it down with full strength white vinegar.
• Grout: Pour full-strength white vinegar on it. Let it remain for a few minutes. Scrub it with an old toothbrush.
• Faucets: Combine 2 tbsp of vinegar with 1 tsp of salt. You will be able to see your reflection in the result. For stubborn calcium deposits, soak strips of cloth in straight vinegar. Wrap these around the faucets or affected areas for at least 2 hours or overnight.
• Shower Grime, Mildew and Scum: If this covers your shower current, door, tub or tiles, spray with undiluted white vinegar. Rinse afterwards.
• Shower head: Need to clean that shower head or free it completely from lime deposits? Place a sturdy plastic bag over the shower head or remove the shower head and place in a resealable bag. Add enough vinegar to cover the shower head and seal the bag. Leave in place for 2 to 3 hours. Rinse with water afterward to remove any lingering vinegar.
• Toilet Bowl: To clean and deodorize the toilet bowl, pour in 3 cups of full strength white vinegar. Let it sit for ½ to 3 hours (depending upon the condition) before scrubbing and then flushing. If you need to get rid of a ring in the bowl, bring 1 gal of vinegar to a boil. Remove and pour into a near empty bowl. Scrub, then flush.
• Freshener: Fill a spray bottle with a solution of 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tbsp white distilled vinegar, and 1 c. water. Spray into the air as required. Alternatively, place small bowls filled with vinegar in the bathroom.
Vinegar can be used in your kitchen in an amazing number of ways. It can freshen the air, clean a filthy oven, or scrub out pots and pans. Read on for tips on how you can put vinegar to use in your kitchen.
• Breadbox: Clean your breadbox first. Wash it down using a cloth dipped in white vinegar. This will freshen it and fight off any mold spores.
• Brass and Copper: Combine equal parts white vinegar and table salt to make a paste you can use to polish and remove tarnish. Alternatively, for brass, you can combine equal parts flour and salt before adding enough white vinegar to make a paste. Apply. Let it sit for about 15 minutes. Rinse it off and rub the surface completely dry.
• Can-Opener Blades: Clean and sanitize the blades of your can opener by dipping a used toothbrush in white vinegar. Place the toothbrush against the turning section. Turn on the appliance. Let the blade scrub itself clean.
• Coffee Makers: Fill the coffee maker with vinegar. Allow it to sit overnight. This will clean the glass pot thoroughly. If you want to clean the entire system, simply fill the water reservoir with at least 1 cup of white
vinegar and let it go through its entire cycle.
• Counters: Wipe them down every day with undiluted white vinegar. It keeps them clean and removes odors.
• Cutting Boards: Wiping a wood cutting board with white vinegar will disinfect and remove some stains.
• Dishwashers: To clear up soap residue from the inner workings and to help keep the entire machine running smoothly and cleanly, add 1 cup of white vinegar and run an entire cycle. Do this monthly.
• Garbage Disposal: To dispose of the smell, make an ice cube tray of vinegar cubes. Feed them into your unit a few at a time. Run cold water and the smell should be gone.
• Glasses: Rinse glasses clearly. Combine ½ c. of white vinegar with a gallon of water. Rinse and watch them shine.
• Microwaves: To clean your microwave the easy way, mix ¼ c. of white vinegar and 1 c. of water. Place it in a microwave safe dish and put in the microwave. The heated mixture will loosen any food splatters so you can easily wipe them away. It will also deodorize your microwave.
• Oven Racks: Soak for several hours or even overnight in a plastic garbage bag or other enclosed container containing a mixture of ¼ c. dish detergent, 1 c. white vinegar and very hot water. Rinse and clean in the sink.
• Oven Vents: Clean and freshen by using a cloth or sponge soaked with undiluted white vinegar. It will cut and remove grease, grime and dirt.
• Pots and Pans: Soak stubborn stains away in undiluted white vinegar for 30 minutes, then wash in hot soapy water. Alternatively, fill the pan with a mixture of 3 tbsp of white vinegar to every pint of water. Boil to loosen stains. Wash in soap and water.
• Refrigerator Smells: Wash thoroughly using a cloth or paper towel soaked in white vinegar.
WALLS, WOOD AND DOORS
• Ball Point Pen: Remove ballpoint pen drawings and marking from walls. Apply white vinegar at full strength onto the “art work.” Use a clean cloth or sponge. Repeat until the marks vanish.
• Mildew, Dust, and Stale Odors: Wash down your kitchen walls with full-strength white distilled vinegar using a cloth or a sponge mop.
• Wallpaper: Remove easily by thoroughly wetting the surface with a mixture of equal parts white distilled vinegar and hot water.
• White water rings from wood: Remove by applying a mixture of equal parts white distilled vinegar and vegetable oil. Rub with and not against the grain of the wood.
• Wood Paneling: Combine ¼ c. olive oil and ½ c. white distilled vinegar. Add to 2 cps of warm water. Place in a container with a lid. Shake it. Dip in a soft cloth or sponge. Apply to the wood, letting it soak into the paneling for a few minutes. Polish the wood with a dry cloth.
When it comes to clean windows, all you need is a bottle of vinegar and some water.
• Basic window cleaning solution: Take ½ c. ammonia, 1 c. white distilled vinegar, and 2 tbsps cornstarch in a gal of water. Apply using a clean sponge or cloth.
• Removing paint and paint splatters from windows: To soften the paint, heat and apply full-strength white vinegar using a cloth or paintbrush. Allow it to work before scraping it off with a razor-edged tool.
BEAUTY AND GROOMING
The cost of beauty and grooming aids can be astronomical. You want to look good but you also don’t want to break the bank. For a safe, economical solutions to skincare, beauty, and grooming, turn to vinegar. In facial and other beauty treatments, apple cider vinegar is the most common vinegar used.
• Acne/Blemished Skin: This process requires you to lean over a pot of boiling water, so make sure your face stays at least 8” away. Place a towel over your head to trap the steam. After 1 minute, withdraw your head and apply a cotton ball soaked with apple cider vinegar. This will remove the dirt and oil that cause acne. Allow your skin to cool and apply more apple cider vinegar.
• Aftershave: Avoid the rashes and itching many commercial products cause. Instead, apply full strength white or flavored white vinegar.
• Age and Sun Spots: Let cotton balls absorb undiluted apple cider vinegar. Apply to spots 10 minutes twice daily. Alternatively, combine a small amount of onion juice with the apple cider vinegar before application.
• Bad Breath and teeth whitener: Take care of these two issues by brushing your teeth weekly with white distilled vinegar.
• Denture Cleaning: Place dentures in white vinegar for between ½ and 1 hour. Brush and wear. If the stains are stubborn, leave overnight.
• Deodorant: To control body odor, dab a small amount of vinegar under your arms. It will neutralize the pH balance.
Haircare and hair product maintenance:
• Dandruff: Remove those flakes by adding 1 c. of apple cider vinegar to 1 qt of water. Massage into your hair, and wrap your head in a towel for 15 minutes to an hour. Rinse thoroughly to remove loosened dander and lingering vinegar.
• Hairbrush: Clean it by soaking the hairbrush in equal parts water and white vinegar.
• Scented hair rinse: Flavor white or apple cider vinegar with the herbs or spices of your choice. Let it sit for 2-weeks prior to usage. Strain and dilute with water. Store in a plastic container and keep handy to the shower. Apply to your hair and rinse off.
• Nail Polish: Make your nail polish last longer. Wipe fingernails with cotton balls dipped in white distilled vinegar before putting on nail polish.
• Toothbrushes: To fight bacteria as well as clean your toothbrush, and help to whiten your teeth, simply dip it into vinegar before brushing.
Vinegar is a healthy way to treat various medical issues without visiting the doctor. Some are simple home remedies, and many have research to back up centuries of old wives’ tales. At worst, they may not work for you as well as you would like, and at best, you’ll find that vinegar just might keep you from an expensive doctor’s visit.
• Aching Muscles: Simmer a combination of your favorite herbs or spices with vinegar. Strain. Pour the heated mixture into your bath. Relax and enjoy. It soothes muscles and itchy skin.
• Athlete’s Foot: Spray on full-strength white vinegar to fight fungi and bacteria.
• Corns and Calluses: Saturate a clean cloth or soak a stale piece of bread with ¼ c. white vinegar. The bread will require 30 minutes, the cloth somewhat less time. Cover the corn or callus with cloth or bread. Tape in place and leave overnight. Repeat as needed.
• Coughs: At the first sign of a cough combine ½ c. apple cider, ½ c. water, 1 tsp cayenne pepper and ¼ c. honey. Take 1 tbsp immediately and another prior to bedtime.
• Fungus: Soak feet in undiluted white vinegar for 5 to 10 minutes to kill off fungus. Rinse to reduce lingering vinegar and smell. Dry thoroughly.
• Head Lice: Apply warm apple cider vinegar to the infested hair. Take a nit comb and dip it in the vinegar. This will help loosen the nits for easy removal by the nit comb.
• Mucus: Reduce mucus build-up by combining equal parts honey and vinegar and take a tablespoon whenever you need it.
• Sore Throat: Add 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water. Stir, gargle, and then swallow. Alternatively, you can combine the vinegar with 2tbsp of honey and slowly suck the mixture off of a spoon.
• Stings and Bites: Soak a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar. Place it firmly on the affected area to fight itching and swelling. You may want to tape it securely in place. If it is a bee sting, be sure to remove the stinger. This also works for jellyfish stings but NOT for Portuguese man-of-war stings.
• Swimmers’ Ear: Combine ½ tsp white vinegar with 1 tsp rubbing alcohol. Tip it gently into your ear. Tilt your head to let it drain out.
Vinegar will give you softer and cleaner-smelling clothes than expensive fabric softeners. It is also completely safe for people with allergies and chemical sensitivities.
The acidic properties of vinegar make it effective as a stain and odor fighter but gentle on fibers. Distilled white vinegar should be the first choice. Don’t do your laundry with infused, tinted, wine or balsamic vinegars.
Please note that your clothes will not smell strongly of vinegar if you add it to your wash. The vinegar pulls out other odors instead of being the primary scent of your clothes.
• Washing Machine: If you want to keep your washing machine fresh and free from rust, add a cup of vinegar to the machine. Let it run through its regular cycle. It will clean the washing machine, break up any soap residue, break down any rust and prevent musty smells.
• Fabric Brightener: Add ½ c. white vinegar to the machine’s rinse cycle.
• Fabric Softener: Add ¼ c. white vinegar to the final rinse cycle.
• Fabric Whitener: 1 c. of white vinegar will brighten small loads of whites.
• Remove Dust, Chemicals, Odor etc. from New Clothes and Fabrics: Add 1 c. of white vinegar to the wash cycle.
SPECIFIC USES FOR CLOTHES AND FABRICS
• Baby Clothes: Add 1 c. of white vinegar to the rinse cycle to pull out lingering odors and soap residues.
• Diapers: If you have a diaper pail, add 5 to 6 cp of white vinegar to the water. This will help neutralize the smell until you wash them.
• Dingy Socks: Combine 1 ¼ qt of tap water with 1 c. white vinegar in a large pot. Bring it to a boil. Pour it into a bucket. Drop the socks into the mixture and soak them overnight. Wash them the next day.
• Nylons: If you hand wash your nylons, add 1 tbsp of white vinegar to the water to help freshen the hose and remove any lingering soap residue.
• Soften Blankets: Add 2 cups of white vinegar to the rinse water when you wash. This will remove the soap residue from both cotton and wool blankets.
- Blood: Before it sets, add full strength white vinegar on the stain. Let it soak in for 5 to 10 minutes. Blot with a cloth or paper towel. Repeat if necessary then wash.
- Deodorant: Dab white vinegar on the stain then rub it into it to pull out the residue before washing normally.
- Grass: Put white vinegar on to the grass stain. Allow it to sit overnight. Wash the next day.
- Ketchup: Soak the stained clothing in a solution equal parts white vinegar and water. Wash.
- Sweat: Pour full strength white vinegar directly on the sweat stains. Soak it for about 1 hour, then wash normally
• Suede: To remove dirt or grease on suede jacket or pants, dip a toothbrush in undiluted white vinegar. Brush it gently over the grease spot. All that is left is for you to pat it dry.
• Wool: To rid your favorite wool sweater of its musty smell, wash it first. Next, rinse it in equal parts of white vinegar and water to remove the musty odor.
• Yellowed Clothing: Soak the articles in a solution of 12 parts water to 1 part white vinegar. Wash the next day.
There are so many other uses of vinegar. Below are several that fall into the “other” category.
Vinegar can help keep your pets healthy and clean. Consider these uses:
• Ears: Gently swab the inside of the ear with a soft cloth dabbed in a mixture of 2 parts apple cider vinegar to 1 part water. This soothes ears and fights bacteria and fungi.
• Fleas: Add equal parts water and vinegar to a spray bottle. Apply generously to the coat. Rub in and fleas will start to move coat. Rub in and fleas will start to move out. (Animals with sensitive noses will not like this, but it is much more gentle than chemical flea treatments)
• Flies: Spray an equal mixture of white vinegar and water around the area affected to keep them away from horses and other pets outdoors.
• Shiny Coat: Spray or rub the coat with a solution of 1 c. white distilled vinegar in 1 qt water to dissolve dirt and balance the pH of the coat.
• Skunk: Combine ½ c. vinegar, ¼ c. baking soda, and 1 tsp of liquid soap. Add the mixture to 1 qt of 3% hydrogen peroxide. Work the solution deep into the coat as best you can (your pet is going to be unhappy, but then again, they’re not happy to have been skunked, either.) Let it soak then rinse thoroughly with water. If the smell still isn’t gone or you’re missing an ingredient, bathe the animal in equal parts of vinegar and water. Repeat then rinse.
• Kitty Litter: Add ½ inch of white distilled vinegar to an empty kitty litter box. Leave it for 20 minutes before swishing it around. Rinse the box with cold water. Air dry. This addresses smells and bacterial growth.
You can remove some stains easily with vinegar using this method, which may also help you remove set in carpet stains:
• Carpet Stains: Blend 2 tbsp of white distilled vinegar with ¼ c. of either salt or baking soda. Rub this paste into the stain. Vacuum the following day. COMPUTERS If you have a computer, printer or fax machine consider these nifty cleaning solutions.
• Computer: Keep it clean and dust free by applying this solution. First, turn off and unplug the gadget. Next, combine equal parts white vinegar and water. Dip a clean cloth in the solution. Do Not use a spray bottle. This could cause some of the vinegar mixture to get into the circuits causing damage. Squeeze any excess water out of the cloth. Start wiping the screen and the keys, moving quickly and lightly to take away dust, sneeze spots, and dirt.
• Computer Keys: Use the same mixture as above, but substitute cotton swabs for the cloth. Squeeze the excess moisture out of the swabs, and pat dry after you’ve swabbed the keys to remove oil, germs, and food residue.
• Computer Mouse: If it has a removable tracking ball, take it off before proceeding. Create a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water. Use a cloth and dip it into the solution on the ball. Squeeze out any excess water. For the rest of the mouse, use cotton swabs to clean out any debris or gunk.
• Frost-Free Windows: Coat windows with a mixture of 3 parts white distilled vinegar to 1 part water. Leave overnight, then remove any extra.
• Leather Upholstery: To make it look like new, wipe it down with hot white distilled vinegar and rinse it off with soapy water. Dry thoroughly.
• Polish car chrome: Put undiluted white distilled vinegar on a soft cloth. Polish.
• Remove Unwanted Bumper Stickers And Decals: Cover them with a cloth saturated in full-strength white distilled vinegar. Alternatively, you can spray them repeatedly with undiluted white distilled vinegar. It may take a couple of hours, but they will peel off.
• Road grime: Remove road grime and dirt from your window wipers. Use a cloth saturated with full-strength white distilled vinegar to wipe them down.
• Vinyl Upholstery: Combine equal parts white distilled vinegar and water. Wipe them down and then dry thoroughly.
ODDS AND ENDS
• Lunch Boxes: Deodorize lunchboxes by soaking a piece of bread in white vinegar. Leave it in the lunch box overnight. Remove in the morning. You may use the same technique for freshening footlockers, car trunks, and even the interior of the car itself.
• Musty Closet: To refresh your closet and remove any musty smells, follow this procedure. Remove all your clothing and accessories. Combine 1 c. of white vinegar with 1 c. of ammonia and ¼ c. of baking soda. Add to 1 gal of water. Take a clean cloth or paper towel. Soak in the mixture. Apply to the walls, floors and ceilings, wiping them down thoroughly. Close the closet door to allow the smell to penetrate. The interior must be dry before you replace your belongings in the closet.
• Piano Keys: When your piano keys become grimy with fingerprints, clean them off using vinegar. Wipe them down with a solution of ½ c. of white vinegar to 2 cps of water. Use a cloth but squeeze any excess water from it. Wipe solution off. Use a second clean and dry cloth to dry it. Leave unused for at least 24 hours.
• Scissors: When scissors become sticky or grimy, get them clean quickly and easily. Wipe them down with a cloth dipped in full strength white vinegar. Dry it afterwards. This will make it less likely for the blades and fasteners to rust than if you used water.
• Shoes: If your shoes or boots exhibit signs of salt or white stains, use vinegar to clean them like new. Wipe the footwear with undiluted white vinegar, drying carefully afterward. This will not only clean the shoes but also prevent any long-term damage.
• Thermos: Clean, sanitize and remove any lingering smells by filling your thermos with warm water to which you add ¼ c. of white vinegar. If any residue appears, add uncooked white rice. This will act as a scrubbing agent. Close the thermos tightly. Shake well. Empty out the vinegar and water. Rinse the thermos clean. Air dry.
Vinegar is also useful outside. From killing weeds to keeping the garden free of pests like ants and cats, vinegar can do it all easily and inexpensively.
White vinegar is a great help in gardens and gardening. Consider the following uses.
• Azaleas and Gardenias: If you want to encourage blooms on these plants, water them every week, except when in bloom, with 1 gallon of water to which you have added 3 tbsp white vinegar.
• Birdbath: Clean it by scrubbing it often with undiluted white distilled vinegar. Rinse well.
• Cement Pond: If you need to cure your cement pond prior to adding any fish and/or plants, add 1 gal of white distilled vinegar to every 200 gal of water. Allow it to sit in the pond for 3 days. Empty the pond then rinse carefully.
• Clay pots: Clean clay pots easily. Combine equal parts white vinegar and water in a bucket or other convenient container. Place the pot into the mixture and soak for around 2 hours. Wipe dry. Wash them afterwards with soapy warm water. This also works on the build-up on plant saucers.
• Dandelions: Spray full strength white or apple cider vinegar on the middle of the flower and near the stem of unwanted dandelions. Do so BEFORE they go to seed. If it rains soon after, repeat.
• Garden Pots: To get out those stains and white mineral crusts in plastic pots, fill a container or the sink with a combination of equal parts water and white vinegar. Soak the pots and leave them for 1 hour or more.
• House Planters: Remove those crusty rim deposits on planters and saucers by soaking them in 1-inch of undiluted white vinegar for 1 or more hours.
• Hummingbird Feeder: Wash down with full strength white vinegar.
• Mealy Bugs: These pests infect both garden plants and houseplants. Apply full strength white vinegar to cotton swabs. Dab the bugs with the swabs. This will kill both the insects and any eggs.
• Moths: If you want to catch moths, get a tin can. Attach a string to it. Place in it a blend of 2 parts white distilled vinegar and 1 part molasses. Hang the tin in a tree.
• Outdoor Fountain: Soak the pump in undiluted white distilled vinegar to clean it. This should get rid of any mineral deposits.
• Rabbits: Find an old 35mm film container and poke a single hole in its top. Soak several cotton balls in full strength distilled white vinegar. Put them in the can. Position the can in your garden to deter rabbit invaders.
• Slugs: You can kill off slugs by using an equal mixture of vinegar and water. Put it in a spray bottle. Apply.
OTHER OUTDOOR ITEMS
• Concrete Stains: To remove stains in your driveway or garage, pour full strength white vinegar on the concrete. Let it set overnight. The next day, take a hose and wash it clear.
• Grass killer: If you don’t like grass growing between cracks in your driveway or sidewalk, pour hot undiluted white vinegar on the grass. Do so once a day for 3 days.
• Outdoor Furniture And Picnic Tables: To sanitize your outdoor furniture, wipe it down using a cloth or paper towel saturated with full strength white distilled vinegar.
• Rust: Soak rusty tools for a day or more in full strength white vinegar. You can apply the same technique for rusty screws or bolts.
• Sandboxes: Keep cats away from a sandbox with vinegar. Take a bottle of white vinegar. Pour it around the borders of the sandbox once a week. Reapply at any time, particularly if the cat is showing signs of taking the sandbox back.
• Septic Tank Care: Avoid the economic and environmental expense of using harsh chemicals in your septic tank. Instead, flush undiluted white vinegar down the toilet. This will end up in the septic tank. It will keep the bacteria count in your tank down.
Vinegar is a wonderful product—but it’s not a cure all or best-fit for every situation. Here are a few things to watch out for as you use vinegar more in your life and around your home:
- Never mix vinegar with chlorine bleach. It creates a noxious gas that can be fatal.
- Don’t apply vinegar to jewelry if it contains a pearl or gem stone in a setting. It may damage the finish, and it will definitely cause the pearl to dissolve.
- Do not use to clean marble tabletops, counter tops or floors. Vinegar’s acid nature will dull or even pit the surface coating. It may even penetrate into the stone and cause damage.
- The same applies to using vinegar on travertine or limestone. It can eat through the calcium in the stonework.
- If you have a sting, vinegar is normally effective for soothing and reducing the pain and swelling. However, it does not achieve the same effect if the stinger belonged to a Portuguese an-of-war. In fact, the application of vinegar may actually increase the release of the toxin.
- In other issues of personal health, do not use if you are sensitive to sulfites. Read the label first to see if the vinegar is sulfite-free.